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Holding leadership accountable for the betterment of society

Though his life concluded nearly three decades ago, the words of the journalist-turned 1978 Noble Prize winner in Literature still ring true today.

“The bitter truth is that we know what a person thinks not when he tells us what he thinks, but by his actions,” said Issac Bashevis Singer in an interview for The New York Times.

Singer had fled Poland during the rise of Nazi rule and pursued his version of the American dream on U.S. soil.

But that critique of the human condition, of the behaviors speaking louder than any words, can still be applied 100 years after Hitler was accepted into the German Workers’ Party and began the slow cultivation of the powerful and dangerous personality cult which afforded him the groundwork for later atrocities and genocide.

This week, many have watched the hot-button topics of community health, governmental transparency and publicly-subsidized services in theory designed to raise the least-privileged instead fall prey to that human condition — to the pride, the shaking grasp for control.

And the actions, the cloak and dagger, speak louder than words.

Do we as a democracy, as a community between hills and hollers that practices daily the deep-seated grit passed down from pioneers, hold our leaders, elected and appointed, to the standards outlined by the founding fathers?

Or do we cower with our tails between our legs when those in power raise their voices and shout that those appointed are under no obligation to give their reasoning for decisions which impact federal funding for our brethren’s health?

Now we must turn Singer’s words to reflection, as a valley, as those whom our leaders are called upon to serve as well as represent, what will our actions say about us?

If our courts are calling for outside entities to follow established rules, procedures and best practices — as in the case of the residential treatment facility debate for Third Street in Marietta — do we not owe it to ourselves, our neighbors and our future generations to also hold our own leaders accountable to those higher standards?

The best team captains are those who see themselves not as better than their fellow teammates, but first, among equals.

They are called upon to liaise between coaches (state and federal agencies) and the team (our county, our townships, our municipalities).

They are called upon to put in the time to understand not only the plays where they’ll be on the field but the big picture the coaches dictate for the long game.

They are called upon to then communicate, practice and train and correct the course for, but also alongside, the greater team so that all can be successful.

Now we, as a team of residents, business and property owners, renters, recipients of aid, parents, teachers and perpetual students have the opportunity to choose — do we hold all of our special teams and their appointed captains to that higher standard, or do we stay silent and allow history’s patterns to repeat and our whole team to lose?

Janelle Patterson can be reached at jpatterson@mariettatimes.com.

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